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In week’s Heirloom Recipe Series, I am so thrilled to have my dear friend Christina Ahumada with us. Christina’s extreme passion for creativity seeps through everything she touches, including her oh-so-wonderful new blog, anora grey. I fell immediately in love with Christina’s style after a quick glance at her perfectly polished nail color and my adoration easily continued after being invited to one of her prosecco & homemade cookie dinner parties.

All photos courtesy of Christina Ahumada

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What recipe are you sharing with us?

Great Nana Ida, on my Mother’s side.

What makes this recipe meaningful to you?

Flour everywhere, batter flung among my two sisters and me, the fireplace cracking as the logs move. Smell of cinnamon, nutmeg …….the scent of baking.  The hum of family and friends laughing and enjoying. The exuberance of a snowy afternoon, or a holiday meal being prepared.  Tradition is an oh, so important ideal to carry on, and scents, tastes and experiences bring all those traditions back to the tips of your fingers when you take that  bite into that same recipe you had long ago.  With baking traditions, your memoirs are only a recipe away.  Being in Atlanta now and being born and raised in NY – family is a plane ride away, so the wonderful memories of laughter, sisters, mothers, grandmothers are only a few whisk-strokes away.  Cooking these heirloom recipes bring them right into my kitchen. Every single one of them.

E very holiday breakfast, an array of baking items were prepared. Bread Dolls, Sweet Rolls, and my Great Nana Ida’s Coffee Cake. Rich with cinnamon, roasted walnuts, and they always-adorned crumb part of the cake, this recipe was one we looked forward to every holiday. It provides the memory of family, warmth from the cool, snowy New York winters; and love of family and friends.

Baking has a creative, cathartic memory for me, a tradition that began far before my mother began working with my sisters + I on the kitchen counters with our noses covered in flour and fingers covered in batter. Working with my hands created a most gratifying result and you can then watch people enjoy your creations. I have began an annual holiday tradition combining my memories and host  a cookies + champagne soiree for my very best girlfriends where I serve my Grandmothers brisket, my Mother’s bread dolls + baking delectable’s from my Great Nana Ida’s recipe book all created in  her pink baking bowls.  This serves as a great platform for me to embrace all my creative passions, carry old traditions while beginning new ones, flowers, entertaining + baking. Simple, creative pleasures are easy to find… you just need to be looking for them. These, to me, are the best simple creative pleasures I could ask for.

Nana Ida’s Coffee Cake Recipe

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs separated

3 cups sifted flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cup milk

*Walnuts

*Brown Sugar

*Cinnamon topping

Cream butter, gradually blending in sugar + eggs yolks.  Beat until light + fluffy. Sift flour with baking powder; fold into creamed mixture alternately with milk.  Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry + fold into batter.

Turn 1/3 of batter into greased + floured 9 inch tube pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of topping.  Add another 1/3 of batter + topping.  Add remaining batter, sprinkle with the remaining topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until cake tester tests it is done.
Makes 12 servings

*Cinnamon topping: Cinnamon, Brown Sugar + Chopped Walnuts

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A bit more about Christina:

Born loving all things creative Christina naturally gravitated to flowers, fashion, interior design + baking. She would pick flowers from her mother’s many gardens until she began taking too many, and she was given her own garden to create and pick flowers from.

Christina embraces her creative passions at anora grey, a floral design company inspired by a passion for design + a love for flowers.

This company embraces creativity offering consultation and floral styling services on all things design, creative, event, wedding or styling related, working with Interior Designers, Brides, Interior Design and Shelter Magazines.

Christina believes no room is complete without the perfectly selected flowers. She tweets on all things flowers, creative + design at @anoragrey and enjoys blogging her work + inspirations at anoragrey.com.

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Part of our Heirloom Recipes Series, featuring foodies, chefs, artisans, Southerners & fabulous folks willing to share their stories, recipes and photos in an effort to help preserve and share these family recipes for generations to come.

rosegarden.011The well-heeled hostess most always has a fresh & fragrant vase of flowers adorning her tabletop when guests arrive.

And the most skilled, as Martha Stewart has reinforced for us, bring those blooms in straight from their very own gardens. Nothing finer than a beautiful burst of flowers and foliage, still moist from the morning dew, fresh-cut and displayed for all to enjoy.

My Nana was known for her beautiful rose gardens. From red to pink to white, from fragrant climbing roses to towering Queen Annes, all giving off the most beautiful aroma that surely could be sniffed throughout the neighborhood.

The art of growing a garden is simply an heirloom treasure Nana J&Jin itself. Learning to appreciate the time honored tradition of nurturing for and tending to a delicate rose garden, a rewarding craft that reaps beautiful rewards for entertaining a lovely home.

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Be elegant when you entertain, with IceMilk Aprons.

Crystal, along with China and fine silver, has long since been a wonderful heirloom treasure. Likely the collections & pieces were made heirloom-worthy due to their memorable givings at such landmark events as weddings and anniversaries.

I have mixed emotions on matchy-match collections. While there is certainly something to be said for folks who have the patience and breadth to collect each and every piece that their fine crystal brand manufactures, I am much more of the mindset that collections should have a common element but be flexible to accommodate three very key points: 1) uniqueness of each object 2) personal meaning 3) adventure!

So lets take crystal. It is simple gorgeous, there is no denying it. Its finely cut edges simply sparkle in the light. It can make punch a delicacy and turn a dish of butter mints into a handful of pure joy. So instead of sticking to one collection of the same pattern of crystal, consider mixing & matching to hit the three points.

First, uniqueness of each object. With many different cuts, makers and patterns each piece is able to sparkle and shine in its own light and stand out in all its glory. Besides, there are very few patterns in the world where the cakestand is just as pretty as the candlesticks.

Second, personal meaning is a big one. When your collection includes new and old pieces, you’re able to include the heirloom pieces without them seeming out of place. And heirloom pieces from all sides of the family at that – wouldn’t want to not use Nana’s crystal bowl simply because it didn’t match your Waterford wedding pattern. No no no!

Lastly, adventure is a big one! It’s your collection and you should enjoy the hunt as much as you enjoy using the pieces themselves. Searching for the perfect missing piece in your collection becomes an on-going process, giving you reason to stop in at that roadside Antiques store or making a thoughtful selection next time Grandma wants you to go ahead and choose just one thing from her collection to use for yourself.

Long-way-around. There is nothing finer than crystal, in all its dazzling glory. My collection began with a tiny crystal piece from Grandma in my stocking each year. A salt cellar, a bud vase, and years of joy making my heirloom collection complete!

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date-filled-cookies-1A special recipe to share today, Date-Filled Cookies. Inked by Nana in her very distinct handwriting, the filled cookies have such a rich sweetness and are reminiscent of days past.

The tender cookies make a delightful presentation with their dark contrast of the date filling and the lightly toasted color of the cookies themselves. They come as quite a surprise to some palettes today, as dates aren’t used in too many recipes nowadays.

date-filled-cookies-2Mom actually has to special order a Date Bar Mix from the grocery store, as they’ve stopped carrying them due to popularity – but are SUCH a treat to enjoy!

I do hope you’ll give these a try and keep the dates ever-present in cooking for generations to come.

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